Kofi Setordji is Ghana’s most eminent artist, and one of the greatest in African and international art history. He was born in Accra in 1957, and attended Christian Methodist Secondary School (Accra), where he honed his artistic talent, under the tutelage of the charismatic art teacher, Stanislaus Abaka. After high school Setordji set up a successful graphic design studio, painting billboards and signage, alongside his private fine art practice. Between 1984 and 1987 he understudied legendary Ghanaian sculptor Saka-Acquaye, and started showing his work in group and solo exhibitions in Accra and at London’s Commonwealth Institute, winning the Leisure Award Sculptor of the Year prize in 1990.
Setordji went on to exhibit at shows and touring exhibitions all over the globe, from the USA, France, Italy, Germany and Austria to South Africa and Denmark. These included the notable group touring shows, 'New Art From Africa' (Berlin, 1996), 'The Dakart Biennale' (Dakar, 2000), 'Modern Art from Ghana' (Amsterdam, 2002), 'Africa Screams' (Frankfurt, Beyreuth and Vienna, 2005), 'The Afrikus Biennale' (Johannesburg, 1995) and 'Art Zaud' in the Netherlands, where his art was shown alongside pieces by Picasso and Ai Wei Wei. Locally, he co-sculpted the emblematic marble Pan-Africanism frieze at Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park, and city of Accra commissioned his five metre high public sculpture, Entre Amis, which stands outside the National Theatre.
Setordji’s international solo shows have included 'The Scars of Memory' (Munich, 2004), 'The Hands of Fate' (Bayreuth, 2006) and 'Koepfe' (Munich,2006) plus solo exhibitions at locations including London’s Betty Morton Gallery, in Bordeaux, Munich and Berlin and numerous shows in his hometown of Ghana. His work is widely collected, and has been featured, discussed and reviewed in many prestigious international publications.
His work explores historical as well as contemporary themes, and the everyday life and realities of his existence in Ghana. He works in the widest variety of mediums from painting to photography and sculpture, in materials including wood, metals, bronze, terracotta and stone. He is also a highly loomer of original ‘Kente’ fabrics, which led to his highly acclaimed and groundbreaking textile exhibition, ‘Kofi Setordji: Adannvor - Creative Textile’, at the University of Applied Arts Vienna (24 May 2017 - 25 June 2017).
Kofi’s most famous piece is arguably 'Genocide Serenade', a momentuos travel installation created as a response to the pogrom in Rwanda, and as monument to the victims of ythe continuing violence and atrocity around the world. The trigger for this eloquent and unnerving work was a morbid TV News footage of a bulldover dumping human bodies into a mass grave as if they were rubbish. He decided to let the world know and feel what was happening in Rwanda, and to to invoke earlier pograms such as the Herero and Nama Genocide of Namibia (1904 and 1908), the Jewish Shoah.
Setordji is also an illustrious architect, teacher and mentor. He is the co-founder/board member of the Nubuke Foundation, whose mission it is to promote Ghanaian art both at home and internationally. He has held teaching posts in the USA and France, and residencies at The Villa Waberta in Munich and, notably, the Rockefeller Foundation in Bellagio, Italy. Zenhaus epitomises his passion for teaching and sharing.
He is currently working on plans for a textile museum in Ghana, while spearheading a traditional skills revival movement throughout West Africa. He has been awarded the Bartimeus Prize and, notably, the inaugual Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Fellowship, alongside Mona Hatoum and Shahzia Sikander, and an honorary citizenship of St Paul Les Dax in France.
He lives and works in Akuapem-Mampong, Ghana.